A new strain of humanity has emerged: people gifted with the power to lock into another’s central nervous system at will. There are 237 scanners scattered across the globe and drifter Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is one of them.
As Cameron learns more about his powers and the existence of other scanners, he lands himself in the middle of a conspiracy involving his psychotic sibling Revok (Michael Ironside), peaceful telepath Kim (Jennifer O’Neill) and mysterious scientist Dr Ruth (Patrick McGoohan). At the heart of the conspiracy is a pharmaceutical company who not only want to control the scanners, but create them as well…
With its emphasis on espionage intrigue, deadly telepathic duals and explosive effects, Scanners is one of the most iconic sci-fi horrors of the 1980s, and a giant exclamation mark on cinema’s telepathic thrills that had began with Carrie, Patrick and The Fury in the late-1970s.
This is the exploding head movie that sealed David Cronenberg‘s future as a serious director. The self-taught Canadian film-maker was only 37 when he made Scanners in 1980, but he had already earned himself the moniker ‘the master of body horror’ with a trilogy of shockers (Shivers, Rabid and The Brood) that all featured nightmarish visions of human mutation. And Scanners was the icing on Cronenberg’s morbid cake: a mature futuristic thriller that won over audiences and critics alike, and featured some of the best work of make-up artist extraordinaire, Dick Smith.
Three decades later – Scanners still delivers. Incredible, when you think it was shot during a harsh Montreal winter in just over 9 weeks with a modest $5m budget. And, thankfully, Cronenberg had the determination to re-shoot the film’s final scenes to create a pyrotechnic frenzy that has become film legend.
The Second Sight (Region B only) release on DVD and Blu-ray Steelbook features a new HD transfer (a massive improvement on the Anchor Bay DVD that LoveFilm rents out), plus interviews with eccentric actor turned artist Stephen Lack, cinematographer Mark Irwin (loved his Jennifer O’Neill memories), executive producer Pierre David, make-up effects artist Stephen Dupuis, and actor Lawrence Dane. Sadly, however, there’s no sign of Cronenberg in the bonus features.